April is a busy time for all MDC’s nature centers, and Twin Pines Conservation Education Center is no exception. Schools start calling in September to make sure they can get in. With all the end-of-the-year field trips and the Discover Nature School field trips, there are no empty days on the calendars. With Heritage Day in the mix, it all adds up to a record April at Twin Pines with a total of 2,534 visitors.
Schools from Howell, Carter, Shannon, Butler, Dent, Oregon, Ripley and Texas counties were represented with nearly 800 fishing in the Mule Camp Pond. Fishing wasn’t all that was going on at the pond – students explored the underwater world at the pond edge. Using a variety of nets, microscopes and field guides, these future biologists discovered dragonflies and damselflies spend only a fraction of their life patrolling the skies above the pond. They not only provide a food source for the keeper-size largemouth in the pond, they provide a natural defense against mosquitos and other biting insects. Other programs with a total of more than 700 attendees, included the Hungry Otter for younger visitors and “Have a Rotten Day,” an exploration of the decomposing habitat logs scattered along the trails at Twin Pines.
For the fifth year, the Saturday before spring turkey season was Heritage Day, a celebration of the life of folks in the early 1900s and how folks depended on the resources for their livelihood. More than 500 catfish meals funded by the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation were served up by Dennis McSpadden of Van Buren with assistance from his granddaughter Madeline, Tommy Smotherman, Twin Pines volunteers and Forest Service Mingo Job Corps. There were several new demonstrators this year along with the tie hackers, boat makers, soapmakers, spinners and weavers. Dave Ferguson and Jake McCormack talked turkey calls, and a group of students from Westminster College researched and demonstrated old-time games such as hoops, tops and marbles for the younger visitors. Normally after a good noon meal folks start thinking about a nap, but no one could sleep through the upbeat performance of the Bakers from Birch Tree.
School programs in April may have resulted a record number of April visitors, but staff are looking forward to the summer with several opportunities available to help Missourians discover nature. Offerings include a wide range of programs - snorkeling, outdoor Olympics, family fishing day and raptor rockets - for families to learn new skills or practice newly acquired ones. Look for Discover Nature Family programs at Twin Pines and throughout the Ozark Region. For more information on how MDC can help Ozarkers explore nature see the Related Information link or call 573-325-1381.